Budget 2013: Centre plans to boost e-governance initiativesAuthor : Abhigna February 28, 2013 0
BANGALORE, INDIA: This is for the eighth time, P Chidambaram is delivering the Union Budget. Currently, Indian economy is constrained with high fiscal deficit, reliance on foreign inflows to finance the current account deficit, lower savings and lower investment, a tight monetary policy to contain inflation and strong external headwinds.
Even then, in FY 2012-13, of all the large countries in the world, only China and Indonesia grew faster than India. However, the optimistic Finance Minister, P Chidambaram assures that, in 2013-14, if the country grows at a rate projected by many expert forecasters, then only China will grow faster than India.
Focusing on a sustainable and inclusive growth, the Finance Minister has proposed to fund various e-governance initiatives. Besides allocating funds for the large scale government initiatives like Aadhaar, modernisation of the India Post and initiating Core banking Solutions (CBS) and various e-payment systems for large scale financial inclusion, proposals have also been made for various technology oriented initiatives aimed at boosting the growth of the economy.
Some of the initiatives that have got preference in the Union Budget 2013-14 are mentioned as follows:
Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme:
The Government has adopted an aggressive approach to roll out the ‘Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme’. Though Aadhaar is voluntary but the Government has been giving priority to Aadhaar card holders while delivering various government services.
While delivering the Union Budget 2013-14, Finance Minister said, “The Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has captured the imagination of the people, especially the poor. The Government is the government of the people. The money is the money belonging to the people. When we say “Aapka paisa aapke haath”, why should anyone oppose it? We have made a modest and cautious beginning on the 1st of January, 2013.”
Nearly 11 lakh beneficiaries have received the benefit directly into their bank accounts. All around us, we see the smiles on the faces of the dalit girls and the tribal boys who have received their scholarships. We see the happiness on the faces of the pregnant women who are assured that the Government cares for the mother and the child before and after child birth, said Chidambaram.
“We are redoubling our efforts to ensure that the digitized beneficiary lists are available; that a bank account is opened for each beneficiary; and that the bank account is seeded with Aadhaar in due course. I assure the House and the people of India that the DBT scheme will be rolled out throughout the country during the term of the UPA Government,” he added.
Modernisation of Country’s Postal System:
For the modernisation of the country’s postal network, the Government has initiated an ambitious IT driven project at a cost of Rs 4,909 crore. According to Chidambaram, “Post offices will become part of the core banking solution and offer real time banking services.” For this project, the Finance Minister has proposed Rs. 532 crore.
Financial Inclusion through Core Banking Solutions and e-payment Systems:
With all scheduled commercial banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) functioning on core banking solution (CBS) and on the electronic payment systems (NEFT and RTGS), Chidambaram aims to bring all other banks under the CBS and e-payment systems.
“We are working with RBI and NABARD to bring all other banks, including some cooperative banks, on CBS and e-payment systems by 31.12.2013. Public sector banks have assured me that all their branches will have an ATM in place by 31.3.2014,” said Chidambaram while delivering the Union Budget.
Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for the Textile Sector:
In order to modernise the powerloom sector, the Finance Minister stressed on continuing the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for the textile sector in the 12th Plan with an investment target of Rs 151,000 crore. Rs 2,400 crore has been proposed for the purpose.
Boost for Technology Business Incubators:
The trend of Business Incubation Centres (BICs) is catching up in India. A lot of private engineering colleges and centrally recognised universities are funding individual(s) to establish their own business. The growing number of Technology Business Incubators will push the SMB sector forward. The new Companies Bill obliges companies to spend 2 percent of average net profits under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“I am glad to announce that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs will notify that funds provided to technology incubators located within academic institutions and approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology or Ministry of MSME will qualify as CSR expenditure.”
World Bank Assistance for MSME’s Tool Rooms and Technology Development Centres:
With assistance from the World Bank, a sum of Rs. 2,200 crore during the 12th Plan period has been allocated to the Tool Rooms and Technology Development Centres set up by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The FM has also proposed to establish 15 additional Centres.
Chidambaram said, “Tool Rooms and Technology Development Centres set up by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises have done well in extending technology and design support to small businesses.”
Zero customs duty for semiconductor wafer fabs:
The Finance Minister has proposed to provide appropriate incentives to semiconductor wafer fab manufacturing facilities, including zero customs duty for plant and machinery.
“The National Electronics Policy 2012 is intended to promote manufacture of electronic goods in India. We recognise the pivotal role of semiconductor wafer fabs in the eco-system of manufacture of electronics,” said the FM.